“Where Were You?”

Alan Jackson, struggling to understand 9/11, woke early one morning in October 2001 with this song in his head. He was reluctant to record it, feeling it would be exploiting a tragedy, and originally intended to just perform it on the Country Music Awards show in November 2001.

Although it would be mocked in some quarters, it’s a tender, beautiful, God-filled song that neither wallows in misery and mawkishness nor beats the war drums, but deliberately turns to God with its repetition of the words from 1 Corinthians 13:13.

His goal was to capture what people felt, so they would never forget. Since we do seem to be forgetting, it’s more powerful than ever.

Jackson would later quote Hank Williams as saying, “God writes the songs, I just hold the pen.”

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • Maggie Goff

    This just hit me smack dab in the heart, Tom. Typing through tears here… remembering trying desperately to get in touch with loved ones back there. Then the overwhelming relief when I did finally after a few days, and the terrible sorrow for everyone.

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Yeah… I tried using the ol’ “God writes the songs, I just hold the pen,” excuse once. Once.